501(C)(3) ID# 27-4526336
MEMBER OF THE LAGUNA HILLS
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
To view the letter from the IRS verifying our status as a charitable organization : CLICK HERE
3rd Battalion, 5th Marine, 1st Division - official USMC site: 1stmardiv.marines.mil/Units/5THMARINE
NPR piece on the Sangin Deployment: npr.org/2011/10/31/141724272/an-afghan-hell-on-earth-for-darkhorse-marines
As the Battalion prepared for deployment to a volatile region of Afghanistan in Fall of 2010, the committee was reformulated under the leadership of Mike Bland. The City provided funds to complete the transition to a 501(c)3 charitable organization and Team Darkhorse was born. Mike formed strong relationships with the 3/5 Marine command at Camp Pendleton, while organizing the Laguna Hills “troops.” Soon members of the community were participating in toy drives for the annual Christmas party, baby showers for expectant Marine spouses, and sending care packages to deployed Marines. Under Mike’s leadership, the annual Laguna Hills Half Marathon was dedicated to Darkhorse Marines. This annual event draws thousands of runners.
The 2010 deployment to Afghanistan was devastating--25 of our 3/5 Marines were killed and nearly 200 were seriously wounded. While this extraordinary loss made national news, it hit even harder closer to home. It motivated Team Darkhorse to do even more for the returning Marines and their families, as well as the families of the fallen.
Team Dark Horse has continued to build a mutually beneficial relationship with 3/5. Marine static displays of armament are present at the Laguna Hills Community Center every Memorial Day and 4th of July. Gold Star family members regularly attend the Memorial Day events that honor their sons. Marines who no longer serve on active duty continue to participate in Team Darkhorse sponsored activities. Wounded warriors are honored every year as the Grand Marshall of the Memorial Day races. Our activities are elaborated on various pages of this website.
On August 28, 2007, the Laguna Hills City Council voted unanimously to adopt 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division based at Camp Pendleton. As a result of this initiative, the Laguna Hills 3/5 Adoption Committee was formed, and was comprised of local volunteers.
The purpose of the adoption was to generate community support for the Battalion’s Marines, Sailors, and their families on an on-going basis, both when the Darkhorse Battalion is at Camp Pendleton and when all of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines are deployed.
The formulation of an effective support committee did not occur in the first few years following the adoption.
"Late in 2010, I was asked to head up the Laguna Hills 3/5 support group because of my interest in my community, and regular attendance of city council meetings. I accepted this because of my wife, Jean’s, father. He was a former USMC Lt Col, serving in WWII, as well as the Korean and Viet Nam Wars. I only was able to know him for a short five years before he passed away. It was because I had so much respect for him that when I was asked to head up this support group, I did so in memory and in honor of him. I never served in the military, but during my college years in the Vet Nam War era, I witnessed the shameful way our military were being treated by the general public. Now I am so pleased at how we respect and honor our military personnel.
It has been the most amazing three years supporting our Dark Horse Marines and their families. They have been filled with many great blessings. I am so pleased the City renamed their Memorial Day event in 2012 to honor our Dark Horse Marines. Our support group has followed the Dark Horse motto of 'Get Some'. This refers to giving the maximum effort to achieve the highest standards of achievement."
Mike Bland served as Chairman of Team Darkhorse for four years. He built an organization from a handful of people to a team of dedicated volunteers. Mike was honored as the Camp Pendleton civilian volunteer of the year in 2013.
In his own words: